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Food Safety Focus (171st Issue, October 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Do Not Consume Wild-caught Snails

A recent discussion on whether local wild-caught snails can be consumed directly stirred up some controversy online. Snails are omnivorous animals. Edible snails (escargots) are raised in farms with strict control of living environment and feeds. In contrast, there is no control of what wild-caught snails have eaten, they may be contaminated with toxic substances and have a higher risk of being infected with parasites. Cases of Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection after eating wild-caught snails have been reported overseas. The parasite can invade the central nervous system in humans and cause meningitis, which can be lethal.

Consumers should not eat wild-caught snails, as there is no means to ensure safety of consumption. To enjoy escargots during a meal, it is safer to patronise reliable shops for farm-raised snails instead.

Figure 1: An example of a local wild snail